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News Summary

Vote uncertain for 2 Ohio plans to ban smoking

Publication Date: 2006-09-12
  • Author:Jim Provance
  • Publication:Toledo Blade

1 lacks signatures; 1 loses ruling

Ohio voters may not get a chance to decide between dueling smoking bans on Nov. 7 after all.

Secretary of State Ken Blackwell's office yesterday told the tobacco industry, bars, and restaurants that they had fallen nearly 50,000 signatures short of the 322,899 needed to put an exemption-laden ban on indoor public smoking before voters.

Meanwhile, a near-total ban on smoking pushed by a coalition of health organizations was dealt a severe blow by a state appeals court, despite having been certified for the ballot by Mr. Blackwell last week.

The 10th District Court of Appeals in Columbus struck down on a technicality some of the petitions that first put the strict ban before lawmakers nearly nine months ago.

For both groups, the matter is now a race against the clock.

Smoke Less Ohio, which backs the weaker ban, has 10 days to file more signatures. SmokeFreeOhio, backing the strict ban, will ask the Ohio Supreme Court to stay the lower court ruling while it pursues an appeal.

A court can remove an issue from the ballot, regardless of the secretary of state's certification. Voters begin to cast absentee ballots on Oct. 3.